Weekly Press Review – 11 September 2017

The big news this week is the agreement signed between PetroSA and Russian company, Rosgeo, to develop oil and gas blocks in South Africa.

According to the press, the deal, worth $400 million (R5.17 billion), was signed on the sidelines of the ninth Annual Brics Summit in China and offers the embattled national oil company the opportunity to position itself towards future growth.

European media reports indicate that the deal is lopsided to the benefit of Rosgeo. According to Rosgeo ‘s chief executive, Roman Panov, the firm would own 70 percent of the project with PetroSA taking up the remaining 30 percent.

PetroSA would not confirm or deny this.

An internationally operated abalone syndicate, known as “The Enterprise” faced the music in the Western Cape High Court this week on 116 charges collectively.

According to the press, the state presented papers saying The Enterprise employed people to collect, clean, dry, freeze and store abalone, which was then packaged for export to Hong Kong using two front companies and using fraudulent documentation stating that containers were carrying pilchards.

They had been in operation for two years.

Members of the The Enterprise were found guilty of various charges, including contravening the Marine Living Resources Act.

The men are currently out on bail and will remain so until sentencing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Weekly Press Review – 27 March 2017

PetroSA has made headlines again this week. According to the press the state-owned oil company is set to suffer a projected devaluation of assets of R1.1 billion this financial year, in addition to the R14.5 billion in impairment it suffered in the 2014/15 financial year.

The PetroSA board, however, managed to escape an attempt to have it dissolved. A call was made to Minister of Energy Tina Joemat-Pettersson to fire the entire board.

Committee member, Motswaledi Matlala said, “On behalf of the committee I request of the minister: let’s fire the board and get new people who are serious about the lives of the people of this county.”

Interim board chairman, Bhekabantu Ngubane responded by saying that it would be sad day if the board were fired.

Adding to the company’s woes it was also reported in the press that an inexplicable decision by executives at the embattled oil company to feed oil into the state-of-the-art gas-to-liquid facility at Mossel Bay has led to a break down of the refinery, resulting in a two week shutdown and a R500 million loss in revenue.

Transnet has made headlines this week with parliament calling for a forensic investigation into Transnet and the Passenger Rail Agency’s multi-billion rand locomotive contracts.

A display commemorating the black South African troops who lost their lives aboard the SS Mendi in 1917 is currently open at the Centre for African Studies at the University of Cape Town.

According to the press the centre will also be hosting a multi-discipline conference focusing on the role that the soldiers aboard the SS Mendi played in the greater struggle for human rights and human dignity.

The SA Navy will just have to do more with less. That was the message delivered by Vice Admiral Mosuwa Hlongwana, Head of the SA Navy, in Simon’s Town this week.

According to the press the navy is experiencing more challenges, but with far less funding. Vice Admiral Hlongwana also stated that it is important to remember that the navy has 3,000km of coastline to patrol and traditional concepts would have to be challenged in driving the navy into the future.

The annual SA Navy Festival, in conjunction with Armscor, took place at East Dockyard in Simon’s Town last weekend. According to the press the event afforded the public the opportunity to tour naval ships and submarines, as well as view multi-capacity anti-piracy demonstrations.

Weekly Press Review – 6 February 2017

The dangers of working in the maritime sector, seems to be the theme of this week’s press review. According to the press there were two separate incidents over the weekend where fishermen lives were endangered and rescue efforts were required.

A fishing boat capsized off Macassar on Sunday. The captain braved shark-infested waters to swim ashore and raise the alarm. The Skymed rescue helicopter located the upturned boat with four men clinging to the side. The NSRI performed the rescue and all crewmembers were later declared fit. They had been in the water for almost four hours.

In a separate incident, one man died after a service boat capsized over the weekend. The fishing vessel, the Jin Syi Shiang, was first on the scene and its crew managed to rescue two of the men from the over-turned vessel. The captain of the stricken vessel, however, remained missing. His body was later discovered aboard the sunken vessel.

The cause of the deaths of two PetroSA workers at the Mossel Bay Gas Liquids Refinery has still not been confirmed. According to the press the two workers received medical attention at the scene, but could not be resuscitated. The families have been notified and an investigation into the incident is taking place.

Also making headlines this week is the announcement that soon-to-be listed Premier Fishing South Africa has installed the first solar energy initiative in the abalone aquaculture space in the country and looks to expand its plant in the Western Cape.

The company stated that it completed the solar energy investment on its Atlantic Abalone farm in Gansbaai with the aim of doubling abalone imports to overseas markets and creating more job opportunities.

Premier Fishing chief executive, Samir Saban, said, “The abalone operation currently employs more than 100 people and with the further expansion of our existing operation we expect to employ more than 300 people once the expansion is completed.”

Weekly Press Review – 5 December 2016

The SA Agulhas II embarked on her latest voyage this week. According to the press a group of 10 local scientists and researchers will spend 14 months doing scientific research for South Africa on the white continent, Antarctica.

According to Department of Environmental Affairs spokesperson Zolile Nqayi, “The team will be doing various types of research, including on weather, oceanography and marine animals such as sea birds.  One of the new interesting projects they will work on is doing remote digital surveillance on penguins, in which they track penguins and how they travel for feeding.”

The research is aimed at providing information regarding the effects of climate change.

PetroSA remains in the headlines this week with a call by the DA for PetroSA bosses to pay back their annual bonuses.

According to the press 10 of the company’s top managers, responsible for Project Ikwhezi, received a total bonus of approximately R17.3 million, while regular workers received nothing; and the company registered a deficit of R14.5 bn. Trade union Numsa is insisting that workers are paid some kind of bonus immediately, and also calling for an immediate forensic audit of the company.

A mix-up at Cape Town’s main harbour dry dock left a 67m supply vessel, the Go Regulus, perched on the wrong blocks this week. According to the press the resultant damage has led to a probe by harbour operator Transnet.

According to global ship repair company EBH the mix-up occurred due to dry-dock workers apparently “misinterpreting designs”.

EBH South Africa shipyard manager Deon Chetty said, “ The Go Regulus has sustained limited damage to the hull. This was due to the inadvertent misinterpretation of drawings submitted. However, in the spirit of its lengthy association – as well as co-operation and goodwill – EBH SA is working closely with Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) to resolve the matter as speedily as possible.”

Unconfirmed reports suggest that another vessel may also have been damaged due to the docking designs being swapped.

TNPA has previously highlighted massive investment in port infrastructure under Operation Phakisa.

Weekly Press Review – 21 November 2016

Making headlines this week was a fire which broke out aboard a passenger cruise vessel on the Hartbeesdam over the weekend resulting in the deaths of four people. The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) is investigating the incident.

A free app is helping 50 small-scale fishers in the province to monitor their catches. According to the press the smartphone application, called Abalobi, is designed to help small-scale fishers monitor their catch, better manage their business and monitor weather patterns before going to sea.

The application was funded by Vodacom Sustainability and developed at UCT. The application has the potential to benefit thousands of households across the country.

PetroSA has stated that it has managed to narrow its losses from R14.6 billion to R449 million for 2015/16.

According to the press revenue was down 13 percent from the previous R18 billion to R15.7 billion, while available cash balance fell from 4.4 billion to R3.7 billion.

The Cape Times ran a World Fisheries Day feature this week. Issues raised in the feature included a call for collaboration in conserving ocean’s resources in order to ensure the health of our oceans for future generations, as well as the welcoming of the Southern Bluefin Tuna allocation.

The desperate dream of becoming a stowaway by many people who find themselves unemployed in South Africa was featured in the press this week. Immigrants from African countries who do not have the correct documentation required to stay in South Africa see stowing away as their lifeline to leave the shores of South Africa and look for work opportunities wherever their ocean ride takes them.

P&I insurance representative Neil Chetty said that the one motivating factor for all stowaways was always poverty.

“If they had work in their home countries, they would not want to go on this adventure,” says Chetty.

Also making headlines this week was the announcement that JSE-listed African equity Empowerment Investments (AEEI) was preparing to list its Premier Food and Fishing division on the JSE main board by the first quarter of next year.

Khalid Abdulla, AEEI chief executive said, “The division has shown consistent organic growth over the past five years, through achieving annual growth of more than 20 percent year on year. The time for acquisitions has come.”

South African tourists have been treated to a rare sight in Cape Town harbour over the past few weeks. According to the press the dwarf sperm whale, one of the world’ s smallest species of whale, has been spotted swimming in Cape Town harbour.

The little whale, smaller that some dolphins, is generally found in the deeper parts of the ocean, but according to Tinus Beukes of the Two Oceans Aquarium the whale entered the harbour on its own and should be able to leave on his own, presuming that it is in good health.

Also making headlines this week is a call by Knysna residents and tourists to help protect seahorses for current and future generations. The initiative forms part of the SA National Parks (SANParks) anti-pollution campaign in Knysna.

SANParks says of the 33 fish species recorded in the Knysna estuary, seven were estuarine dependent species like seahorses. The Knysna Seahorse is protected by law in the Marine Living Resources Act.

Weekly Press Review – 29 May 2015

In sad news the press has reported that the search for the two fishermen who went missing after their boat capsized over the weekend has still produced no conclusive results.

The fishermen were reported as missing after their boat capsized in dense fog off Lamberts Bay.  The boat had a crew of four on board.  After the boat capsized all four clung to the boat and must have fallen asleep.  On arrival, members of the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) were informed that two of the crew were missing.

NSRI spokesman Craig Lambinon reported that none of the crew had life jackets and there was no emergency equipment on board the boat.

The two surviving fishermen were treated for hypothermia at a nearby hospital and their condition is described as serious, but stable.

The search for the two missing fishermen continues.

A reminder of the daily danger that fishermen subject themselves to in order to put food on the table.

Also in the press this week is the news that state oil company, PetroSA has asked three of its top executives to take special leave pending an investigation into their performance.

The news comes on the back of the company’s declining revenues, particularly a failed bid to enter the fuel retail market and a loss of R1.2 billion for the financial year 2013/2014.

PetroSA spokeswomen said that they were in discussion with the three executives and an interim management team might be appointed.

PetroSA is following in the footsteps of Eskom who also suspended its chief executive and three other executives to allow for an inquiry into the utility’s performance.

Weekly Press Review – 29 August 2014

PetroSA has made the headlines this week with the decision to cancel plans to build a floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Mossel Bay.  The decision was based on a feasibility study which revealed several technical complications at the site as well as financial considerations.

The company has said that it is still planning to keep looking for a suitable location along the coast.

A story revealing how fishermen take care of fishermen also made news this week.  Local fishermen came to the aid of two fishermen whose rubber duck capsized off the coast of Lamberts Bay. The fishermen were escorted to the local harbour where the NSRI were on hand.  The two stricken fishermen, aged 55 and 45 were treated for mild hypothermia.

The NSRI thanked the fishing community in the area for their assistance.

In environmental news, it was reported that Japan is planning to propose a 50 percent cut on catches of young tuna.  The decision is aimed at safeguarding the at-risk species.

With the terrible weather slamming the South African coast this week, it is not surprising that rough seas led to a chokka fishing boat running aground off St Francis Bay.  It has been reported that the vessel, the Sikelela, lost power while turning towards the harbour entrance and, due to high swells and strong winds, ran aground on rocks and harbour wall dolosse.

The St Francis Bay NSRI managed to rescue all 13 crew members.

A survey into plastic pollution in our oceans grabbed media attention too.  Author, Charles J Moore, a captain in the US Merchant Fleet and founder of a leading ocean research group has stated that he is “utterly shocked” by the amount of plastic floating in the sea.

The sight causing all the alarm is what is being described as a floating landfill site in the North Pacific Ocean and Moore believes that the ever increasing amount of pollution in our oceans is far deadlier than climate change.

“It’s choking our future in ways that most of us are barely aware of.”

Unfortunately there are no high tech methods to reduce ocean pollution, but plastic pollution seems to be the biggest contributor.  With plastic, there is action that can be taken.  The survey offers some solutions:

  • Plastic bag tax
  • Screens to cover gutters and catchment basins
  • Even more emphasis on recycling
  • Sieve-like skimmers to remove debris from the water.

These all sound like practical solutions, but like most problems affecting our planet, I think the first change needs to take place in the hearts and minds of those living on this planet.  That would be us.  Think, reuse and recycle.